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Workplace Mental Health & Wellness Training: Key Takeaways

Posted: November 2021

Psychosocial wellbeing and mental health awareness has never been more pertinent in the workplace, especially in the context of a post-pandemic world. Supporting mental wellbeing is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, but a business imperative. After all, poor mental health can impact the workforce considerably: an estimated 300,000 individuals with mental health conditions exit employment every year, a total figure that is larger than those with underlying physical health issues.

Phaidon International partnered with award-winning and bestselling author, presenter, and international consultant, Liggy Webb, to educate our internal teams across the globe. In an incredibly poignant and honest talk, Liggy Webb engaged in meaningful dialogue to share tangible ideas and best practices around mental wellbeing, albeit work-related or personal. Throughout the training session, which took place virtually, the guest keynote speaker explored bitesize topics from building inner strength, practicing mindfulness, cognitive and emotional intelligence, to the 3 pillars of human resilience. Framed by research and science, and peppered with a few anecdotes, the wellness program provided invaluable advice on how best to care for ourselves, but also the larger web of others around us.

The team at Phaidon International found the training course extremely insightful and thought-provoking. We still feel immensely inspired and well informed, and therefore would like to share some key features that took center stage during the mental wellness training session.

The importance of preserving workplace mental wellbeing

Before we delve into specific efforts and initiatives, it’s important to unpack mental wellness – its place within the workplace and the significance of keeping it top of mind. Mental health is not linear, it occurs along a continuum, where an optimistic and functional mental health shade exists at one end and chronic symptoms of mental health conditions, such as addiction or illogical thinking, sit at the other. Depending on what’s happening at different parts of our lives, we may fluctuate back and forth across this spectrum.

When applied to the workspace, we must acknowledge how the working paradigm, albeit virtual, hybrid, or in-office, affects us – either positively or negatively – as well as the overall impact it has on our ability to complete our jobs. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies that work can generally have a good influence on our mental health; a space that helps us feel validated, focused, and productive. However, if not recognized and addressed, an adverse working environment might take its toll on our physical and mental health, or cause an existing condition to worsen. Comparably, if we fail to keep our mental health intact, it might cause larger problems and debilitating negative emotions to fester, which could potentially impact our productivity, concentration levels, or take a strain on interpersonal relationships with colleagues.

"We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat”, writes Damian Leighton Barr, British poet and broadcaster. This quote resonates deeply with the activity of life; with the pressure to perform optimally at work and simultaneously juggle the demands of our personal environments. Through our own daily challenges, which we all experience differently, it’s important to maintain a synergy between both aspects of life. To be acutely perceptive of the stresses, pain points, and anxiety signs that might present themselves in a work and personal setting can help you thrive – both physically and mentally.

Wellbeing in a post-pandemic world

When examining the nuances of wellbeing, it’s crucial to take a holistic approach. Wellbeing doesn’t simply encompass our mental and physical health, but the environment we meticulously strive to create around us. The hybrid model is set to remain a prominent fixture of our post-pandemic futures. With many following this pattern of working, some might find it poses a challenge, specifically with navigating the constant adjustments that arise on the back of a blend with in-office and remote work.

Spiritual wellbeing is unequivocally important, particularly in regard to a ‘healthy hybrid’. In essence, the concept of a ‘healthy hybrid’ embodies a good work movement, whereby good work makes us healthier, and fundamentally more purpose driven. Tapping into our spiritual wellness allows the pursuit of a larger life, which ignites a sense of fulfillment and helps us make a more positive contribution. The foundation of wellbeing starts with self-care, from which everything else is built upon. Self-care can include a myriad of practices that promote our physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental health in some shape or form, and most notably, Liggy Webb succinctly summarises, “self-care is not a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity.”

3 pillars of human resilience

The term resilience is derived from the Latin word resilire, which literally means to jump back or recoil. However, modern day resilience is not simply a case of reverting back to where we were before – it’s our aptitude in weathering the storm by internalizing or externalizing experiences, so we can learn from them, and ultimately become stronger.

During the training class, a focal point of the dialogue explored resilience and its correlation to psychological and mental wellbeing. As Liggy Webb points out, “it’s not about how hard you fall, it’s about how you get back up.” Resilience is determined by a confluence of factors; our ability to be positive, our ability to adapt well to change, and the ability to take onus of personal responsibility. A key takeaway from the training resource explored the three cornerstones of resilience:

1. Accountability: The way we respond to situations matters, profoundly. Whilst we can’t control all situations, we do have autonomy on how we respond, whether that be reactive or responsive. Interestingly, over 40% of what we do occurs habitually, however when we exist on ‘auto pilot’, or reactively, this might not be the best way to tackle certain situations. Responsive behavior provides us with the space to step back and consider the options available. By ‘making haste slowly’ not only do we start crafting a roadblock of intelligence, but essentially, we can shift our perspective into a unique way of thinking that is incredibly empowering.

2. Agility: In our deeply complex and fast-moving world, the capability to manage one’s thoughts and feelings is critical to success; alleviating stress, reducing errors, and sparking innovation. Inevitably, we all experience challenges, albeit in the form of change or setbacks, but this is part in parcel of our human existence and the tapestry of being alive. An agile way of thinking requires a growth mindset – by employing facets of emotional intelligence, we can adjust our behaviors, be receptive to change, and build a strength directive that combats significant challenges.

3. Attitude: In a nutshell, our mindset is the gatekeeper to plant seeds of positivity and inspiration – everything boils down to the mindset we seek to adopt. Developing a healthy and positive mindset has been cited as one of the top three skills humans require to achieve resilience. The 'Positive Psychology’ movement, pioneered by American psychologist, Martin Seligman, is a systematic theory about the potential of the human mind; the incredible control mechanism between our ears. Through scientific research, the brain has been identified as neuroplastic, which denotes to the brain’s ability to form new connections and pathways through growth and reorganization. The neural networks in the brain can rewire our thinking, and this knowledge that we have control and power over our thoughts is key, “thoughts are just thoughts, it’s entirely up to us which ones we want to latch on to, and which ones we want to breathe energy into,” comments Liggy Webb. By being adaptable with our thinking, we can cultivate a ‘growth mindset’ – the willingness to learn and to be a perpetual student – an open-mindedness that is extremely beneficial in the workplace.